Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham has his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game, the first time he has done that since the 2013 season, when he was with the Saints. His comfort level in the offense and Russell Wilson’s growing trust in him has led to more production.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham was in front of his locker, just answering some questions, when a voice off to the side spoke up.
“A bad, bad man right there,” the voice said.
It was Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and he was talking about his tight end, who had just proved to be an unsolvable problem for the New York Jets’ defense.
Graham is on pace for more than 1,000 yards receiving despite playing in a limited role in Week 1. But just as important is how Graham put up those numbers.
Twice in the 27-17 victory over the Jets, Wilson threw back-shoulder fade routes to Graham. One play, Graham made a one-handed catch against a smaller cornerback. On the other play, Graham made a twisting, leaping catch against a slower linebacker.
They were important not just because each produced first downs. They were important for what they represented: the continued growth, connection and trust between Wilson and Graham.
It wasn’t always there last season, at least in production, but this season has a different look, a different feel.
“He believes in me,” Graham said. “He really believes in me, especially sometimes when a guy is running with me, like right next to me, he just believes that if he gives me the ball, I’m going to go make a play. There were a couple special plays out there where he just had that belief in me and threw it up.”
Graham said those two back-shoulder fades were the plays he was talking about. They are ultimate trust throws, all about timing, precision and a confidence in the receiver.
“He just believes I’m going to make a play on the ball,” Graham said. “I always tell him that either I’m going to get it or nobody will.”
He said those same things to Wilson last year, but it takes time to create chemistry.
“We’re kind of starting to move in that direction,” said the 6-foot-7 Graham.
Graham adds another dimension to the Seahawks’ offense. Here’s an example: On one play, the Seahawks put receiver Doug Baldwin in motion. At the snap, Baldwin kept flowing out wide in the flat while Graham took off up the middle of the field down the seam.
It presented the defense with a dilemma: Does it focus on Baldwin outside or Graham up the middle? Wilson hit an open Graham for a pretty easy 20-yard gain.
“Exactly that situation: We have opportunities where if they want to focus on me, then they’re going to leave Jimmy wide open or Jermaine (Kearse) wide open,” Baldwin said. “And if they focus on them, we have other options. It’s great for our offense because now we have so many weapons that they have to account for.”
It was part of the chaos the Seahawks envisioned when they traded for Graham, whom teammates say now appears more comfortable in Seattle.
“He understands his role in the offense,” Baldwin said, “and sometimes it’s just going up and catching the jump ball when Russ throws it to him.”
Just as important, Wilson seems to understand that’s part of Graham’s role, too.
“He can do anything,” Wilson said. “He can make any play, any catch. He’s a special player.”
|Graham’s 100-yard games for Seattle|
|Jimmy Graham had his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game for the Seahawks, and only his third with the team.|
|Oct. 18, 2015 vs. Carolina||8||45||140||0|
|Oct. 2, 2016 at N.Y. Jets||6||27||113||0|
|Sept. 25, 2016 vs. San Francisco||6||40||100||1|